Ayers finished the 2016 season with 29 tackles (21 solo), including two for loss, 6.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and a pass defensed over 12 games. The veteran pass rusher, inked to a three-year, $19.5 million free-agent contract last offseason, had a rather uneven start to his Bucs tenure, suffering an ankle injury in Week 2 against the Cardinals and missing the subsequent four games. However, Ayers came on strong over the last month-plus of the campaign, recording sacks in four of the last six contests. He also notched a season-high six tackles against the Bears in Week 10, but didn't record more than three stops in any of the other 11 games he participated in. Ayers couldn't quite duplicate the career 2015 season he enjoyed with the Giants in which he set personal bests in tackles (41) and sacks (9.5), but his 6.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016 did represent the second-best total of his career. With the possibility of a full 16 games and a second season in defensive coordinator Mike Smith's scheme on tap in 2017, Ayers could certainly be poised to build on this past season's production.
Ayers (illness) was listed as a full participant in Thursday's practice, ESPN's Jenna Laine reports. Ayers was under the weather Wednesday and didn't practice. His complete availability Thursday implies he's past whatever bug he'd been dealing with, though, meaning Ayers isn't in danger of missing Saturday's showdown against the Saints.
Ayers (illness) did not participate in Wednesday's practice, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. The veteran defensive end has been a solid presence over the last four games in particular, posting 11 tackles (eight solo) over that span, along with three sacks. With the illness that sidelined him coming on Wednesday, we'd expect that Ayers will be ready to suit up by Saturday against the Saints. Another update on his status should come after Thursday's practice.
Ayers tallied three tackles (all solo) and a sack in Sunday's 16-11 win over the Saints. The veteran pass rusher has been excelling at tormenting opposing quarterbacks over the last three games, posting a sack in each contest. Factoring in his 1.5-sack effort in Week 10 versus the Bears, Ayers now has 4.5 takedowns over the last five contests. After an ankle injury that prompted a five-game absence earlier in the season, Ayers has hit his stride in defensive coordinator Mike Smith's scheme, and has been a vital cog in what has been a vastly improved defensive unit over the last month.
Ayers totaled six tackles (five solo), including 2.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks in Sunday's 36-10 win over the Bears. The offseason acquisition posted what was easily his best effort since joining the Bucs. Ayers was a disruptive force throughout the afternoon and a key part of a defensive effort that totaled four takedowns overall of Bears QB Jay Cutler. His prior ankle injury apparently behind him, Ayers is primed to potentially put together a strong second half to his first season in Tampa.